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Official Website of the Author of False Bodies, True Selves and founder of Labyrinth House



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Young People's Experiences of BDD, A Grounded Theory by N. Schnackenberg

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is characterised by a distressing preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in one’s appearance. Interview data from 10 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 were analysed for this study. Findings informed the development of a psychological model of BDD in young people: The ShameIdentity Model of BDD in Young People. This paper focuses on the educational aspects of this model. 

Bodies Arising book cover-Nicole Schnack

Do you struggle with your body image? Are you walking beside someone who does? Are you suffering on account of dieting, disordered eating, over-exercising, compulsively seeking cosmetic surgery or obsessively resisting the ageing process? Psychologist and psychotherapist Nicole Schnackenberg delves into how your identity may come to be pinned on to your physical appearance, and what you can do about it. Bodies Arising offers a series of meditations and reflections to support you on your journey of moving beyond food and body image struggles. It is an invitation to remember that your true Self is not the physical body and offers many tools for moving towards a love of every aspect of your being. Includes a Foreword by Sunday Times bestselling author, Theresa Cheung. 

False Bodies, True Selves

False Bodies, True Selves explores the phenomenon of growing numbers of people in western society and beyond completely embedding their sense of identity in their appearance. Unlike other books which address either theoretical models of appearance-focused identity struggles or explore lived experiences of appearance-based battles, False Bodies delves into both. Importantly, the spiritual aspects of what it is to become enemies with one’s body are given centre stage in the context of Donald Winnicott’s theory of the true Self and the false Self.

The book begins by looking at some of the myths, superstitions and fairy tales related to mirrors before moving on to western society’s current obsession with appearance, which seems to have been compounded by the mass media. After looking at some of the most common manifestations of appearance-focused anguish including eating disorders and body dysmorphia, it begins to unpick the possible underlying meanings beneath such struggles with a particular emphasis on issues of a systemic nature. The latter part of the book then moves on to the spiritual element of such psychological distress including the benefits of addressing appearance-based disturbances through a transpersonal lens.

Also translated into Russian and sold by Phoca Books.

False Bodies, True Selves

With a Foreword by Professor Katharine Phillips and an Introduction by Professor David Veale and Doctor Rob Willson. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is characterised by a preoccupation with a perceived defect, or defects, in one's appearance. These 'flaws' are either unnoticeable to the outside eye or seen as nothing more than a normal physical variation. To the person with BDD however, the abhorred aspects of their appearance cause significant shame and distress. Some hide away and become housebound, sometimes for many years. BDD affects males and females almost equally and has one of the highest suicide rates of any mental illness. Despite the extreme suffering experienced by people with BDD, it is possible to learn to cope with and even completely move beyond it. The stories in this volume powerfully attest to this. Gathered here are thirty-six lived experiences of people with BDD and their loved ones. They are stories of tremendous bravery, immeasurable determination and incredible hope.

False Bodies, True Selves

A Hug In The Mud. A picture book written by Nicole Schnackenberg and illustrated and designed by Ingrid Sanchez. Piggy Wig decides to leave the comfort of his muddy home and go off in search of a hug. He is reminded of an important lesson about self love along the way.

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The first book offering support for parents and carers of children and young people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), this guidebook explains the condition as well as the impact that it may have in education settings, family life and socialisation.


Over the last thirty years, eating difficulties have become increasingly prevalent across the UK and worldwide. Written by clinicians, therapists and researchers, as well as those affected by eating difficulties and their families, this comprehensive book explores practical ways to help people with eating difficulties to live and thrive in their communities. It recognizes all experiences of eating difficulties as equally valid and worthy of support, and seeks to provide those with personal experience of these issues with comfort, affirmation, empowerment, a sense of agency and hope.


Nicole Schnackenberg

Doctor Nicole Schnackenberg is a Child, Community and Educational Psychologist, a psychothe­­rapist, a 200-hour Hatha yoga teacher and a certified Kundalini yoga teacher with extensive training in yoga therapy.


She currently divides her time between her role as a psychologist at Southend Educational Psychology Service, her position as a trustee of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation and of the Give Back Yoga Foundation UK, and her facilitation of the Eat Breathe Thrive yoga programme for food and body image issues.


In addition to her contribution to  projects at the Minded Institute, she also works with the Special Yoga Foundation in London and is a director of the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance.

She is co-founder of Labyrinth House, a space for community and family wellbeing in Essex, UK. 




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False Bodies True Selves is an outstanding and comprehensive work taking a transpersonal approach to engaging with body image disorders. Destined to be a classic, Nicole Schnackenberg's book draws upon Eastern spirituality and Western psychotherapy to open up whole new possibilities for therapists and offer hope for anyone trapped inside a prison of their perceived physicality.

Richard Cox

Director, T!M FREKE Publications and Founder, Unbreaking the Mirror: An Esoteric Approach to Engaging with Body Image.

A beautifully written book, 'False Bodies, True Selves' is a rare combination of academic rigour and compassionate understanding. Nicole takes the reader on an insightful journey integrating psychological, philosophical and spiritual understandings of appearance-related identity struggles. This is both a highly readable and inspirational book offering a deep understanding of what takes us away from our true Selves and, most importantly, providing guidance on the path back. 

Dr. Samantha Bottrill

Senior Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Therapist for Mental Health, the Maudsley Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Service

Written by an author who has both personal and professional insight, this book is both stimulating and engaging to read. It is a comprehensive, articulate and uncommonly sensitive work on the important (yet still woefully neglected) topic of distress about appearance. With a broad range of historical, literary and contemporary research based references, ‘False Bodies, True Selves’ is an invaluable resource for those interested in body image and want to better understand this fundamental aspect of being human.

Rob Willson

Cognitive Behavioural Therapist & Chair of The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation

False Bodies True Selves provides an exquisite account of the descent into various appearance related disorders and the arduous, multi-dimensional road towards profound healing. Unfolding the many personal and social dimensions of appearance battles Schnackenberg beautifully narrates relevant neuroscientific research, psychotherapeutic theory, and metaphor, as she weaves the insight of her own excruciating journey throughout the book.  We are left with an account that is deeply informed and highly personal.  As a human being I am richer for having read it, as a therapist I know a clearer perspective of healing is now with me as I look through the lens of Schnackenberg’s profound vision.

Heather Mason

Founder, The Minded Institute

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